Why I Refuse to be Happy


Somewhere, someone in human resources has said, “My one wish is to be happy.” Well, ladies and gentlemen, that wasn’t me.

You might have seen the trendy titles that are taking the human resources industry by storm, but of all of the ridiculous titles, in all of the ridiculous organizations, there is one title that stands alone – Chief Happiness Officer (or any derivative thereof).

I get it. Happy employees save companies money. They are less likely to attrite, and research shows that happy employees tend to be more productive. What we’re missing here is that employee happiness is not up to HR. I am not responsible for balancing your neurochemical equation. This isn’t me skirting my duty as a human resources professional. This is me explaining that I am not the Geppetto to your Pinocchio.

Maybe what we’re debating is terminology, or even the sum result of the proper execution of this important business function, but there is a fine line here and the title of Chief Happiness Officer crosses it. You know what doesn’t cross that line? A Benefits Coordinator that helps you navigate your comprehensive benefits package. A Human Resources Manager that advocates for an investment in your professional development. A Head of Talent that identifies and recruits your future team members. The list goes on.

I want you to be successful, and I hope that you are fulfilled, but I can’t make you happy. This sounds like we’re breaking up. We’re not. Well, if you think we’re together in the first place, it’s probably time that we have a talk. If you can’t find happiness in what you do, then you probably shouldn’t be doing it anymore. Now, that’s an equation I am more than willing to help you solve.

I can support and help create an environment in which you can do your best work every day. I can’t make you happy.

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    Kris Robinson at August 16, 2016 Reply

    Amen. So often people look for happiness to come from external sources. You can’t find it there. One of my favorite sayings is, “Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” The sooner people figure that out, the more control they will actually have to achieve real happiness.

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    Lisa Jackson at August 17, 2016 Reply

    Spot on perspective Nick. I say this often to clients “Happiness is a personal choice and responsibility. Engagement is an outcome of creating an environment in which people can win and do their best work. ” Leaders (HR and otherwise) must fully realize their job is to remove obstacles and create clarity and alignment. Perhaps Chief Enabler of Great Work is just not sexy enough.

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